By Josef Omorotionmwan
TODAY, we are starting with a simple aptitude test in which the examiner expects us to be honest to ourselves: (a) We are fighting corruption (b) Corruption is consuming us (c) None of the above.
The correct answer is (b) – Corruption is consuming our nation. With each passing day, we are sinking deeper into the abyss. Why are these things happening mainly in the most unexpected quarters? Most churches would reserve the front seats for the highest donors without according much regard to the sources of such donations. Each time the Police authorities place a ban on fire works at yuletide, we find that the loudest sounds still come from the direction of the police barracks.
Still talking of the Police Pension Fund, in the beginning, we made the mistake of thinking that the last place a thief would go would be a police formation as the police are the thief-catchers, even for other people. Available evidence shows otherwise. The easiest places where monumental thievery now takes place are the Police and Military pension funds.
We have not stopped imagining how large sums are lifted from the treasury – are they carried in trailers or in tankers or out rightly, in containers?
The more we know, the messier it gets. Recent sounds from the Federal Capital High Court, Maitama are not encouraging, either: “An 18-count amended criminal charge brought against Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Uttang who was the Accountant in-charge of the Police Pension Fund when N7.8 billion was stolen through 10,863 cheques. Besides tracing over 20 choice assets belonging to Mrs. Uttang, the EFCC alleges that she personally signed 1,042 cheques to the tune of N1.14 billion… The EFCC went ahead to enumerate various companies that she used in defrauding the Police pension office”.
It sounds silly enough that in the 21st century, our system can be so porous to permit single individuals to heave so much for so long, unchallenged. And it happens all the time and at every tier of government, except that the Uttangs and the Yusufus could have been the few dogs in whose mouths, traces of excrement might have been found.
Uttang has advanced her trade to a higher level. On Wednesday April 10, 2013, she went to court with a horde of goons with a view of preventing journalists from reporting on her arraignment. She unleashed her attack dogs, as it were, on the photo and video journalists around.
This is all happening in a democratic setting and in the 21st century. No one has told us how many of the thugs were rounded up and kept in police and prison custody since then. Meanwhile, we are adopting the out-modeled stance of the foolish messenger who says: “After all, I was not the one attacked”. Tomorrow, it could be you. Who says that anyone that brings thugs to court to prevent reporting on her arraignment will not engage enough Bakassi Boys on judgement day to physically ensure she gets a favourable judgement? This is our rapid descent into anarchy.
In the quest for amnesty for Boko Haram, we saw it coming. We warned against granting amnesty to a faceless group of criminals who had not asked for amnesty. Our fear was that if they rejected the offer, we would have no place to hide our faces in embarrassment. All the same, there was no doubt in our minds that the moment the political adventurer, our President, perceived any political gains in granting amnesty to Boko Haram, he would grant it before we woke up the following morning.
Two things happened the penultimate week – first, in our utter confusion, things are being muddled up. We are now embarked on an indecent haste to buy peace at all costs and by all means. Our tough-talking President is already capitulating.
True to type, where the carcass is, there vultures go. In that same tradition, where the votes are, there our President goes. Following a short visit to Aso Rock, by some Northern elders, our President is setting in motion, a mechanism for granting amnesty to a group that still feels it is in a position to call the shots. A committee is being set up to work out the modalities.
Second, Alhaji Shekau, a prominent leader of the Boko Haram sect was not in any doubt as to what the group wants: “Surprisingly the Nigerian Government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon”.
This is a clear case of the rat pursuing the cat and that’s perhaps the way our President wants it. You must quickly factor in the Ansaru faction, which claimed responsibility for the execution of seven foreign hostages a few weeks ago, a group that still shows no desire for peace. With Shekau and his team still at large, the amnesty rejection simply means that a large number of anarchists are out there totally bent on perpetuating mayhem.
They are organised and consistent. We are unorganised and inconsistent. They are unrepentant killers. We are begging them and making every effort to please their mentors because of our political ambition. These people know their next level but we don’t have any next level.
Last weekend, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was virtually on his knees, begging members of the Boko Haram to stop the wanton destruction of lives and property. For them, the next level would be to graciously come out and accept Ribadu’s plea during which they would name their terms, which if we fulfill, they would grant us amnesty.
In our very eyes, our security and well-being are being sacrificed in a selfish bid to court cheap political patronage. Today, Boko Haram calls the shots. We had every opportunity to make it otherwise but we blew it all. Evidently, things will get worse before they get better. But we have one consolation: God is still on His exalted throne.